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Sport NZ published a study into the impact of COVID-19 which shows the pandemic has severely affected participation in physical activity across the country. The study involved a series of surveys of between 2,500 and 4,500 adults (18 years and older) between April 2020 and April 2021.
The study found there was a decrease in the number of physical activities that people participated in each week, a decline in the amount of time spent being active, a significant drop in the number of adults meeting the physical activity recommendations and an impact on habitual physical activity.
Languishing. It's a term that might describe how you are feeling right now!
Languishing is a state of apathy, a sense of restlessness or feeling unsettled or an overall lack of interest in life or the things that typically bring you joy. "The constant mental workout of living through a pandemic and coping with the effects of that begins to take its toll", says Dr Dougal Sutherland – a clinical psychologist at Victoria University of Wellington.
The good news is there are many simple things we can do to boost our mental wellbeing. One great way is to incorporate more play and fun into each day!
When you love to be active and exercise, it can be hard to understand why other people don't feel the same way! However, for most people, exercise is not a natural or easy thing to do - even when they know it's good for them! Why is this?
Nicky Pellegrino provides some excellent insights in her recent Listener article 'Survival of the Fittest' (15th-21st January 2022 issue - Why We Hate To Exercise). She interviews Harvard paleoanthropologist Daniel Lieberman, who has spent time observing the Hadza - a hunter-gather society living in northern Tanzania. Lieberman comments, "We've created a world in which physical activity is now voluntary and so we have to do this very strange, abnormal thing that runs counter to our basic fundamental instincts - unnecessary, unrewarding physical activity".
He goes on to say that while we are "hardwired to conserve energy", there are strategies we can employ to "drum up the motivation to move".
Every cloud has a silver lining, so the saying goes! And it appears there have been a number of positives to come out of the current COVID-19 pandemic in regard to physical activity and exercise. In many cases, living in lockdown and learning to adjust to alert levels has altered our feelings towards physical activity for the better. Daily exercise became the one constant, providing structure and routine against a backdrop of an ever-changing news cycle.
Not only has the way we feel about physical activity changed, but so has the way we think about it. Let's take a closer look at how the pandemic has altered attitudes and the implications this has for activity providers in future.
Here we go again! Dealing once more with the ups and downs - and uncertainty - of another COVID-19 community outbreak. We all manage difficult situations differently. Lets look at some proven practical strategies we can deploy to help us get through at this challenging time.
Dr Lucy Hone and Dr Denise Quinlan are the Directors of the New Zealand Institute of Wellbeing and Resilience.
They have put together 12 strategies based on the best science and their own experiences. Here are the first three:
- Choose where you focus your attention - tune into what's still good in the world! Think about and share good stuff!
- Deliberately seek out the people (and do the stuff) that make you happy - positive emotions are vital for building resilience.
- Maintain strong and supportive relationships - quality connections are the number one predictor of wellbeing.
You might also like to watch Dr Lucy Hone'sTED Talk on the Three Secrets of Resilient People.
New research from McMaster University suggests the pandemic has created a paradox where mental health has become both a motivator for and a barrier to physical activity. People want to be active to improve their mental health but find it difficult to exercise due to stress and anxiety, say the researchers who surveyed more than 1,600 subjects.
"Maintaining a regular exercise programme is difficult at the best of times and the conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic may be making it even more difficult," says Jennifer Heisz - lead author of the study and an associate professor in the Department of Kinesiology at McMaster.
"Even though exercise comes with the promise of reducing anxiety, many respondents felt too anxious to exercise. Likewise, although exercise reduces depression, respondents who were more depressed were less motivated to get active, and lack of motivation is a symptom of depression," she says.